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Arius last won the day on June 25

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  1. The Year Missed - Wrestlemania 13 & Beyond The LONG Prelude While it might seem like all these events along the history of WWF are singular or unconnected. As you read along you'll soon see how one action eventually lead to another action all leading to the road to Wrestlemania 14 where fate, karma or bad luck, however you view it took over for Shawn. When Vince McMahon decided to turn his father's wrestling promotion into a nationwide powerhouse he effectively eliminated all of his competition by buying their stars. He lured wrestlers to his company with the promise of big money and name recognition. As a result, the "territory" system died out and longstanding promotions such as the AWA collapsed. One group that held on was the NWA which was bought out by Ted Turner who ran it on his TBS network. The promotion was renamed World Championship Wrestling and throughout the 80s and early 90s, WCW was a far cry from WWF. They boasted some former WWF stars like Davey Boy Smith and Jake the Snake as well as homegrown stars like Ric Flair, Lex Luger and Sting but WWF did not see WCW as competition, merely as another territory to snag top stars from. All that changed in 1996. WCW President Jim Herd promoted announcer Eric Bischoff to the position of Execute Director. Bischoff had a whole new approach for WCW and wrestling in general using an all-live format with suspenseful, reality based programming. Bischoff took full advantage of Ted Turner's competitive spirit to gain millions to sign high-profile names like Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage. But the biggest shock signing to the modern WWF was stealing away newer stars Razor Ramon and Diesel. Diesel went on to feud with Shawn Michaels once again after he turned on him, in his last televised WWF appearance until 2002, Diesel challenged Michaels for the WWF Championship at In Your House: Good Friends, Better Enemies on April 28. Razor Ramon lost to Vader on the same event. Going out on their backs. On May 19, Michaels and his fellow Kliq members were involved in the incident known as "Curtain Call". Diesel and Razor Ramon were about to leave WWF to company rival WCW so after Michaels won a match against Diesel, Ramon and Hunter Hearst Helmsley came to the ring and joined Michaels and Diesel in a group-hug. As Diesel and Helmsley were seen as heels at the time, in contrast to Michaels and Ramon, this was an issue backstage and confusing for some fans in attendance. A moment remembered in history thanks to a fan recording from their camera. (The kid that snuck in the camera is ultimately the one who made Stone Cold Steve Austin because Triple H's plans of winning that years King of the Ring were cancelled. Austin went on to win, the rest is history. Prove me wrong!) In WWF Michaels was suddenly left without two friends from his inner Kliq. He had been counting on a successful title reign defending against Hall and Nash but now was forced to work with new opponents like Vader, Goldust and Mankind. The pressure increased as WCW pulled ahead in popularity due to the New World Order storyline in which former WWF superstars attempted to dismantle WCW from within. The stress and tension proved to be tough for Michaels, who was on his own in a locker room filled with people who did not respect him or at the very least did not respect his attitude and actions. Adding to this Michaels made an appearance in "Playgirl" which was unprecedented for a WWF wrestler and made HBK a sex symbol but had a backlash on his popularity with WWF's target demographic. According to stories he had no idea the magazines popularity was mostly with a different community. Continuing as champion, at WWF In Your House 8: Beware Of Dog Michaels defended the championship against The British Bulldog and again at King of the RIng 1996 the following month. McMahon was behind Micheals for a long reign as champion but a revolution was underway as fans became more and more interested in "heel" characters such as the NWO, Psycho Sid and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Traditional good guys, such as Michaels found themselves strongly with a mixed reception at best. The popularity of ECW added fuel to the fire by showcasing violent "hardcore" matches and the high-risk lucha libre style of talent eventually signed by WCW. WWF floundered as McMahon stuck to his tired formula that paled when compared to the flash and drama of WCW's show. As a result the pressure grew on Michaels until he nearly reached the breaking point. At Survivor Series 1996 the culmination of Shawn Michaels as the eight month long as WWF Champion and Sid’s psychotic desire to become the champion. Sid made his entrance. He received a lot of cheers. He was a bit of a tweener at this point because some fans liked him, but he was also a crazy kind of character. There were plenty of “Sid” chants. Michaels championship reign ended at the Survivor Series event, where he lost to Sid. It was around that time WCW contacted Bret Hart. WCW made a multi-million offer to bring him to their show but Hart wanted to remain where he had built his legacy; in the WWF. Although McMahon could not offer the same money as WCW he instead offered Hart a 20 year guaranteed contract, ensuring that he would still have a job when his in-ring career ended. The agreement also gave Hart creative control of his character for the last 30 days before he left WWF, a condition that would be very important one year later. Hart returned at Survivor Series 1996 and began a feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin that would culminate in an epic I Quit match at WrestleMania 13, which saw Austin turn into an anti-hero and the traditionally nice Hart turning into a villain. After Michaels recaptured the championship from Sid in January 1997 at the Royal Rumble heading towards the grand event, originally, the main event was slated to be Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels with Michaels dropping his championship to Hart. However, Michaels refused and instead surrendered his title, famously stating on RAW "I've lost my smile and I need to go find it." At this point Hart was disgusted with Michaels' conduct as champion and Michaels was fiercely paranoid of Hart trying to reclaim his top spot. The two men's egos now were in direct opposition to each other. The stage was set for big things to come of their very personal rivalry. Vince McMahon was looking for a way to compete with WCW so began to channel Hart and Michaels' anger into television content. Michaels criticised Hart for his old-school attitude and whining. Hart fired back at Michaels poking fun at his appearance in Playgirl and questioning his sexuality amongst other things. This was especially apparent at the end of Wrestlemania 13 where Hart interrupted the main event to berate Sid, Undertaker and Micheals on commentary in a mock shoot style promo. At the same time Steve Austin's feud with Hart had turned him into a superstar and turned Hart into a hated heel in which he formed a heel faction that included Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, Davey Boy Smith and Brian Pillman. Hart criticised Michaels for his antics and immoral behaviour, and so Michaels turned the volume up on both. Joining up with Triple H and Chyna they formed a faction called D-Generation X. Michaels quickly descended into "cool heel" mode, pulling pranks and making censored jokes. Seen as WWF's version of the NWO. McMahon saw the shift in business and basically gave Michaels free reign to do as much of the R-rated material as he wanted. WCW was shackled by the networks standards and so WWF was able to get away with far more gross-out humour than the NWO. McMahon capitalised on this creating more controversial characters, such as The Godfather and Val Venis, as well as showing off women superstars such as Sable in next to no clothing. All leading to a spike in business for the WWF. For his part Hart detested the new "attitude" and it only fuelled his on-screen wrath. Michaels began to take his public criticisms of Hart to another level, accusing Hart of cheating on his wife Sunny. “Even though lately you’ve had some Sunny Days as of late my friend, you still can’t get the job done.” - Shawn Micheals After this incident Hart lost his patience and attacked Michaels backstage. McMahon was not bothered though, Vince had learned the WCW formula and now all he needed was a way to pull ahead in this war. He found that opportunity in the popularity of Steve Austin. Austin's rebellious character caught on big with fans and allowed WWF to finally start to mount a comeback against WCW's ratings. Another important decision was made by McMahon. The company was going to publicly trade their stock. One of the conditions for this change was that McMahon would need to wipe all long-term deals from the company. This included Hart's 20 year deal. Hart was furious when McMahon suggested he might want to contact WCW. McMahon clearly wanted to let Hart out of his contract, seeming to have no further use for the him. Hart was hurt and began his negotiations with WCW. A deal was eventually struck and an end date for Hart's time in WWF was set. There was just one dilemma...Hart was still the WWF Champion. Bret Hart had won the WWF Championship from The Undertaker at Sumerslam 1997 where Shawn Michaels was the guest referee. In order to fully capitalise on Austin's popularity McMahon decided an Austin vs. Michaels match for the WWF Championship would be the perfect WrestleMania main event. This was contingent however, on Bret Hart's willingness to drop the title to Shawn Michaels at the Survivor Series in Canada. Despite hesitant in losing in his home country Hart stated to McMahon that he would be happy to lose the belt to any superstar on the roster... except Shawn Michaels. Shawn had shown him complete and utter disrespect and had consistently refused to lose the title to him. Hart refused "for the first time in my life" to lose the match, and because Hart had creative control of his exit, he was entitled to say so. Early on in the war Bischoff had resorted to vicious tactics when competing with WWF. Since WCW Monday Nitro was live and RAW was taped, Bischoff would give out results to the WWF show before it aired and criticise their choice of main events. He hired WWF Women's Champion Alundra Blayze and had her bring her title belt in WCW television throwing it in the garbage. Because of this McMahon was suspicious of any wrestler dealing with Bischoff. When Hart refused to put Michaels over, McMahon was clearly suspicious that Bischoff's hand was in Hart's decision. At this time Bischoff was actually fighting a losing war against his own company. WCW was bought out as part of the AOL/Time Warner merger and found itself under new scrutiny. "There's no way they would've let me put the WWF title belt on Nitro because of the potential lawsuit." he has said in interviews. At the time however, McMahon didn't know this and feared that Bischoff may have given Hart extra money to bring the title belt with him. McMahon was determined that Hart should not leave Montreal with the title. Hart and McMahon discussed the subject tirelessly. Hart suggested he drop the title to Steve Austin or Mick Foley, but McMahon was set on having the new champion be Michaels. Hart offered to forfeit the title, but McMahon wanted a new champion crowned. The two sides were at a stalemate and Survivor Series was fast approaching. At last McMahon conceded that the match would end in a double DQ and Hart would forfeit the title the next night on RAW. The day of the match Hart spoke to Michaels and set up the match where they decided to break tradition once more, starting the match outside the ring in a brawl through the audience before the first bell rang. Hart met with McMahon once more to go over the plan. After cautioning from Undertaker and Vader, whose experiences in Japan had taught them to be wary of situations like his, Hart spoke to referee Earl Hebner. Hebner told Hart that if it came down to it, he said "I swear on my kids" he would not help McMahon betray Hart. Satisfied Hart suited up for the event. The match went as planned until the final moments. As Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith waited for their entrance as they were slated to do a run-in and cause a DQ. Instead hey were asked to find Triple H who was also scheduled to run in. Hart and Smith searched, unaware that Triple H was actually down at ringside. McMahon himself and an increased number of security guards also arrived. As planned referee Hebner was knocked down during the match and Michaels put Hart's own Sharpshooter finisher on him. Before Hart could reverse the hold as planned Hebner signalled that Hart had submitted. McMahon shouted "Ring the damn bell!" at the timekeeper. The bell rang and officially the title had changed hands. Hart looked stunned. Michaels looked furious, cursing at McMahon's officials and picking up the belt with a look of disgust as he exited before suddenly celebrating for the crowd just before he went behind the curtain. The show went off the air immediately but the drama continued. As Hart realised what had been done to him. He spat in McMahon's face and destroyed several expensive ringside monitors. He was able to collect himself and re-entered the ring, making "I love you" gestures to the audience and spelling out WCW in the air. Hart went to the backstage air and confronted Michaels who insisted he had nothing to do with it over and over. Michaels claimed he would not accept the belt in that fashion. "I'll judge by what you do tomorrow night" said Hart, inferring that Michaels would prove himself by what he did on RAW. (Guess how that went?) McMahon eventually came to speak with Hart but Hart was in no mood to see him and told McMahon to leave by the time he finished showering or he'd "knock your lights out." McMahon stayed, and Hart followed through on his promise. It would be Hart's last time in a WWF locker room for the next twelve years. Not only did Hart leave WWF that day, but Jim Nedihart, Davey Boy Smith and Rick Rude all exited soon after, quickly snatched up by WCW. Mick Foley also gave his notice but reconsidered given his career options. The next night on RAW Shawn Michaels declared "I beat Bret Hart for the WWF Championship in his own hometown with his own move." He then pretended to wrestle with a midget dressed as Hart. WWF rolled on without Hart. Austin was taking the WWF by storm and was fast becoming the hottest star since Hulk Hogan. At the 1998 Royal Rumble, Austin won the Rumble match and would be placed into the main event against the WWF Champion at WrestleMania 14. During that same night Shawn Michaels defended his title against the Undertaker in a Casket Match. Partway through a backdrop by Undertaker sent Shawn flying over the top rope and landing back first on the casket, crushing one disc in his spine and herniating two others. The injury was a career ending one that would put Michaels out of wrestling for several years. However, Michaels chose to continue performing through WrestleMania, mainly appearing for non-wrestling segments promoting the match and the occasional tag team match with Triple H. In the months leading up to WrestleMania, McMahon pulled out all the stops to create buzz around the main event, bringing in Mike Tyson as the guest referee. McMahon showed that he had learned from the success of the HBK/Hart storyline; injecting reality into storylines made them even more compelling and dramatic. Eric Bischoff had made WCW the top company by using his bad reputation with fans to his advantage, and McMahon was about to do the same thing. McMahon did an interview with Jim Ross in which he blamed Hart's selfishness for the Montreal situation. McMahon's face was prominently marred by a black eye from where Hart had punched him. "Vince McMahon didn't screw Bret Hart. Bret screwed Bret." McMahon instantly became the hottest heel in the company, and he took advantage of it by placing himself in the Austin/Michaels storyline; casting himself as the evil corporate "Mr. McMahon". The perfect enemy for Austin. The question loomed however, as to whether or not Shawn Micheals would put Steve Austin over at WrestleMania or simply relinquish yet another title after the match.? Next: Wrestlemania 14
  2. Bret Hart (c) vs. Shawn Michaels - Iron Man - WrestleMania XII: WWF Championship The Prelude Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels are two of professional wrestling's living legends. Dominating the scene throughout the '90s, on camera they were bitter rivals competing for the top spot in WWF. Behind the scenes, it was exactly the same thing. Hart and Michaels waged war in and out of the ring, publicly bringing backstage tension into the ring and playing out a real life soap opera complete with a tragic ending in front of millions of viewers. The Hart and Michaels feud is perhaps mostly remembered for the events of the "Montreal Screwjob", but in fact, the roots of the feud go much deeper... into the lives of two of wrestling's most talented stars and the legacy left for those that followed after them. The chapter we are focusing on today is the lead up to the famous clash at WrestleMania XII The Foundation Bret Hart began his WWE career in 1984, with eight years of professional experience behind him already. Hart's father, Stu, was a professional wrestler and the promoter of Stampede Wrestling in Canada. The Hart family was deeply involved in professional wrestling and still is today. All of Bret's six brothers were wrestlers at one point and all of his sisters married wrestlers. His sister Ellie is the mother of current WWE Wrestler Natalya and his sister Diana is the mother of Davey Boy Smith Jr who is working with MLW. The 'Hart Dungeon' in Stu's basement is legendary for being the spot where Stu and his sons trained some of the most prominent names in wrestling history such as Davey Boy Smith, Dynamite Kid, Chris Benoit and Brian Pillman. Bret Hart brought a no-nonsense attitude to his work and was known for his unrivalled technical wrestling ability, which earned him the nickname "The Excellence of Execution". Entering the WWF Hart became a tag team wrestler with Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart and manager Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart who the latter were already a unit. The duo blended Hart's ground-based wrestling skill and cocky attitude with Neidhart's pure brute strength and charismatic personality. However they struggled to break through in the tag team ranks, consistently coming in on the losing side against the more popular teams like the Killer Bees and The British Bulldogs. At Wrestlemania 2 in an event where Hart was once supposed to face Steamboat in singles competition, instead they took part in the NFL vs. WWF battle royal, being the last two men in the ring with Andre the Giant who eliminated both men. In 1987 after hard work they finally captured the Tag Team Championship from the Bulldogs. Although they were champions and well-known for having good matches with any team, the Harts still found trouble advancing themselves in the eyes of the company. Going Solo In 1991 The Hart Foundation went their separate ways. It was decided that Bret would do better as a singles wrestler, plus Neidhart was experiencing personal issues. Here is when Hart began using "The Sharpshooter" which he would popularise. He gained a following putting on good matches against lesser-skilled opponents like Dino Bravo and the Barbarian. During this time Hart claims Vince McMahon told him that he received more fan mail than Hulk Hogan, who had been the company's biggest star since 1984. It was decided that Hart would win the Intercontinental Championship in a match with Mr Perfect at SummerSlam 1991. Hart would remain a prominent figure in the Intercontinental picture for the next two years, competing in high-profile matches with Davey Boy Smith, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper among others. In late 1991 Michaels began to seek a singles career. He showed excellent prowess in singles matches, including a highly rated match with Ric Flair. Read: Shawn Michaels vs Tito Santana - Wrestlemania VIII At WrestleMania VIII Bret Hart defeated Roddy Piper to regain his Intercontinental Championship and Michaels pinned veteran Tito Santana, cementing himself as an Intercontinental contender. The first Hart/Michaels matches for the Intercontinental Championship began. The two had met before in tag team matches, including one in 1990 where the Rockers defeated the Hart Foundation for the tag titles, but the decision was upheld at the last minute and the match never aired. Now, Michaels and Hart captured the attention of fans all over WWF. They clashed in the first-ever WWE Ladder Match, a concept Hart brought with him from Stampede. Eventually though it was Davey Boy Smith who defeated Hart for the championship, dropping it to Michaels only weeks later. In Hart's autobiography he says that this was his idea. On Top of the World After dropping the Intercontinental Championship, Hart moved on to bigger and better things. In the midst of a government investigation into charges of steroid distribution Vince McMahon began to shift gears in the company's approach. No longer did he want to promote the heavily muscled bodies of steroid users such as Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. Instead he opted for the more realistic physiques. He found himself looking at the smaller stars on his roster and chose Bret Hart to be the next face of the company. Hart won the WWF World Championship on October 12, 1993 from Ric Flair in front of his home country in Saskatoon. In his post-match interview, Hart referred to himself as "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be". With this Hart was the first man to win the WWF's "triple crown". Hart took a new approach to the WWF championship, vowing to be the "fighting-est" WWF Champion of all time. Unlike Hogan and Warrior before him, Hart defended the title against mid-card talent such as Virgil and Razor Ramon as well as main eventers like Flair and Savage. A number of champion vs. champion matches came about as well, with Hart defending the title against Michaels at the 1992 Survivor Series though the Intercontinental Championship was not up for grabs. At WrestleMania IX Hulk Hogan returned to WWF. McMahon immediately put him back at the top, with Hart losing the title to the future (Check out Wrestlemania Tales) Yokozuna, who immediately lost the belt to Hogan. Hart was bitter and angry about the loss believing that he had been robbed of his hard-earned spot and it was hard to argue with him. Cited as an early example of Vince McMahon relying on a "reliable" that turned out to backfire when Hogan's return was in the end short lived. Hogan lost the title to Yokozuna two months later and exited the company. Hart won the King of the Ring tournament that same night and confronted Hogan backstage claiming he was "never one of the boys". Hart felt he was used as a pawn in the Hogan/McMahon head games. Hart feuded with Jerry Lawler for the rest of 1994 in the aftermath. Though Lawler was a household name after his 80's confrontations with comedian Andy Kaufman and years dominating the Memphis territories, at this point in his career he had since fallen into a cartoonish villain role for the company. Understandably Hart considered the feud a step down. Michaels meanwhile, was taking steps up. Read: WWF Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon - WrestleMania X 1994 On that same night, Hart defeated Yokozuna to win back the WWF Championship in the main event. The ring filled with faces such as Savage, Razor, 1-2-3 Kid and Vince McMahon himself made an appearance. Also on that same night Bret wrestled his first WWF match against his brother Owen Hart, kicking off a championship feud between the two brothers. In the following months Bret feuded with Owen while Shawn and Diesel feuded with Razor. The combination of Shawn, Razor, Diesel and the Kid along with newcomer Triple H (At the time Hunter Hearst Helmsley) became known in backstage areas as 'The Clique'. The Clique worked very closely together, refusing to 'put over' wrestlers other than each other. They traded the Intercontinental Championship amongst each other, and eventually Shawn and Diesel won the tag team championships. At Survivor Series 1994, the tag team combusted and Diesel became a babyface, chasing Shawn out of the arena. At that same event, Bret defended his WWF championship against Bob Backlund in a Submission match that could only be lost when the competitor's cornerman threw in the towel. Bret's cornerman, Davey Boy Smith, was knocked out in the match by Backlund's cornerman, Owen Hart. Owen deceived his mother Helen into throwing in the towel and costing Bret the championship. Just a few days later, Diesel pinned Backlund at Madison Square Garden to become the WWF Champion. Diesel would hold the title for just under a year. Now a babyface, he feuded with his former friend Shawn and often teamed with Hart against Shawn and Owen Hart. Bret's "family feud" continued with the return of his brothers-in-law Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart, with Neidhart taking Owen's side and Davey Boy taking Bret's. Michaels found a new bodyguard in Psycho Sid,. Someone signed from WCW who McMahon had big plans for. Hart challenged Diesel for the championship at Royal Rumble 1995, only to have interference from Owen and Michaels end the match in a draw. That night Michaels became the first man to win the Royal Rumble after drawing number 1. Michaels would face Nash at WrestleMania XI for the championship, and would be accompanied to the ring by celebrity guest Pamela Anderson. Read: Diesel vs Shawn Michaels- WrestleMania XI: WWF Championship Hart's WrestleMania XI match against Bob Backlund was a "I Quit" match with a special guest referee Rowdy Roddy Piper. Bret Hart was critical about his match against Bob Backlund, claiming it was "probably my worst pay-per-view match I ever had". Hart was also annoyed with Michaels' performance during the main event. Although the event has been criticised the crowd rallied behind Michaels and even though he lost, Shawn came out far more popular than before. McMahon began Michaels down the road to the WWF Championship. Michaels made a babyface turn, feuding with Jeff Jarrett to win the Intercontinental Championship again. He defeated Razor in a ladder rematch at SummerSlam 1995 . Michaels was on a roll when he hit an unexpected speedbump. While out partying at a bar with Davey Boy, Hall and 1-2-3 Kid, Michaels got into a fight with a group of Marines. Michaels was badly beaten and suffered a severe concussion. At in Your House 4 in October, Shawn forfeited his Intercontinental Championship and claimed his injuries would force him to retire from wrestling. Fortunately for Michaels, he would recover and make his return in time for Survivor Series 1995 the next month. (Seriously watch this and then regret you decided to listen to me. That song was painful and WWF aired this for weeks.) Anyway. After WrestleMania XI Bret Hart was locked in his feud with Jerry Lawler. Lawler would make comments on-air about Hart's family and would side with Owen numerous times. Outside of the ring Bret found Lawler's comments offensive and did not see the humour in them. He was also frustrated with the cartoonish nature of his feud, which saw him involved in matches with Doink the Clown and Lawler's dentist Isaac Yankem (aka Kane). However by November Hart was back in the title picture and faced Diesel at Survivor Series 1995. Hart ended Diesel's 12-month reign in a No-DQ match. During the match famously Hart went through a table, Hart had seen the move performed by Sabu and incorporated it into the match. Hart claims that after the match he was berated by Nash, who said "Don't forget who did you the favour!" Hart counts this as another example of the Clique's mentality anger when forced to lose to someone other than Michaels. WrestleMania XII Hart would defend the title against the likes of Davey Boy Smith, Owen Hart and The Undertaker. While Hart criticised Michaels' Clique, Michaels criticised Hart's constantly feuding with family members and bringing family matters into the ring. In early 1996, Shawn won the Royal Rumble once again and was placed in a championship match with Bret Hart. Both babyfaces and both at the top of their game, fans were excited at the prospect of such a meeting. McMahon asked Hart if he felt comfortable putting Michaels over for the championship. Hart, who had been hoping for time off to pursue other projects, agreed. The match was set for WrestleMania XII and would be the first ever 60-minute Iron Man Match for the company. The lead up to this match was one of the biggest in WrestleMania history. Strangely, Michaels was taken off the road for several months in order to firm up his conditioning for the 60-minute affair while Hart worked a gruelling schedule in matches with heavyweights like Sid, Yokozuna and Vader and also completed a two-week tour in India. Hart claims this was done to make him look beat up and exhausted by the end of the match. He feels that the lead-up intended to make Michaels look good and himself look bad. Michaels was filmed working with his trainer, famous Mexican luchador Jose Lothari. Hart was filmed jogging cold Calgary weather and then being painfully 'stretched' by Stu Hart The Match Prior to the main event Howard Finkel welcomed Gorilla Monsoon, who was the President of the WWF at this time. The Fink introduced Shawn Michaels, but Jose Lothario is the one that walked out. I remember wondering where Shawn was. Jose got in the ring and pointed up. Lawler screamed that Shawn had run away from the match but towards the rafters...It was Shawn Michaels!! He took the zip line down and landed in the crowd. It was a very extravagant entrance that was very cool. For Bret’s entrance, he walked down to the ring like he normally did and had some pyro go off as part of the entrance. Bret kissed the title and gave it to Earl, who held it up for the crowd. Bret gave his sunglasses to his son who was in the front row. Going by entrances alone you'd think you knew who was winning but lets not forget Rusev once came into Wrestlemania with a tank. "I don't think that's going to happen at all. I think for a matter of fact that there are not necessarily Bret Hart fans or Shawn Micheals fans. It's one big family affair here in the World Wrestling Federation! That much is for certain and they want to see action!" - Vince McMahon "Alright McMahon. If you were a little smarter you'd understand how dumb you sound when you say something like that" - Jerry "The King" Lawler "Thank you" - Vince McMahon Now onto the action itself, and I’ll keep this brief because, despite this being an hour long match, there isn’t too much to speak of without running down every move and i'm not looking to do that for an hour long match. Within the first ten minutes, Hart and Michaels began hitting each other stiffly. Neither Hart nor Michaels will admit to ill-will being at the centre of the rough action but many wrestling observers feel both men took the opportunity to vent their aggression on each other in the moment. For the majority of the match, it was an athletic balance of control, with logical attacks, grounded submissions and similar rest holds comprising a significant chunk of the contest. There were moments to break it up such as Bret launching Shawn high over the top rope onto the floor, and a crossbody to ringside by Michaels. At one moment Michaels superkick Chimel at ringside which got a laugh from me. But a great deal of this bout stemmed of one or both simply wearing the other man down, especially Hart, who was a master at controlling a bout in this manner. Hart also pulled out his occasional trick of blurring the line of face and heel. As we neared the end of the match, the pace accelerated and it began to resemble a more normal performance from both. The excitement peaked when Bret caught Shawn in the Sharpshooter with 30 seconds remaining, and Michaels held on just long enough for the time to expire. "HE TAPED! SHAWN TAPPED!" - Jerry Lawler "Now hang on a minute!" - Vince McMahon Problem was it was a draw tied at 0-0 Gorilla Monsoon ordered a sudden death restart. Bret frustrated made his way back to the ring and quickly pounded Michaels, only to taste a superkick from out of nowhere. Another dose of Sweet Chin Music allowed Shawn to pin Bret and become WWF Champion! “The boyhood dream has come true for Shawn Michaels!” screamed Vince on commentary at the end of the match, There was a long celebration to end the match (A little extra bit of information. Bret has said that Shawn shouted for Hart to “leave the fucking ring” to let Michaels have his “moment”). Honestly funny enough to be believable. The match is widely considered to be one of the best in WrestleMania history but in later years some differentiating opions have arisen. Is this a technical classic or a snoozefest? It is definitely a high-quality match but it comes down to personal perspective if you enjoyed the ride. I enjoyed the hell out of it. Watching Bret control the match the way he did made me wish i could see more like it. After the match ended Hart left the ring looking angry and refusing to shake hands with the fans. This lead to speculation that Hart was legitimately angry about the match, though Hart claims that he was simply trying to set up for their inevitable WrestleMania 13 rematch. Hart left the WWF to pursue his acting ventures which by what i can tell didn't really take off outside of cameos as Bret Hart and a role on a western television show called Lonesome Dove. Not everyone can be Roddy Piper or The Rock sadly. The Aftermath The burden of being the World Champion now fell on Shawn Michaels' shoulders. It is a difficult weight to bear for any man, but HBK was about to be dealt a challenge no other WWF champion before him had faced... Next: The Year Missed
  3. Honorable Mentions: Spec Ops: The Line, Mark of the Ninja, Pokemon Black & White 2, WWE '13, Binary Domain, Legend of Grimrock, Halo 4, FTL: Faster Than Light, Dragon’s Dogma 2012 1: Sleeping Dogs I haven't had as much fun with an open world game since the GTA series at the time i finally got around to play this game. Sleeping Dogs had me invested from the first moment to the last. Everything about the game is well executed, from the fighting, to the driving, to the cover based shooting, it's all balanced. The thing that really got me though is the characters, from the main character, Wei, to any of the other various characters I was impressed. The story of loyalty and inner turmoil is told through well-scripted dialog and great voice acting during cutscenes. The underworld of Hong Kong is alive as well, I found myself wanting to travel around just to take it all in. The sum of all of these parts give Sleeping Dogs that classic Hong Kong Kung Fu action flick vibe. Sleeping Dogs has set the bar very high bar for me if Rockstar want to take notes for the one day GTA followup. 2: Dishonored Dishonoured takes a more creative approach than most video games and the massive amount of choice given to players keeps the game interesting through multiple replays. Say you are entering a building where you're target is, you can decide which way to enter such as the front door (well duh!) a window or even through a sewer by possessing a fish. If you want, you can just find a non lethal approach to the whole game and kill no one which is highly unlikely to happen but still adds to the fun that you know you can kill or spare anyone you want. It's also another game where I can be easily immersed into the world it has created. Just like Bioshock, Dishonored creates a distinctive world and peoples it with weird and grotesque characters. Amongst towering structures and darkest depths of the industrial city of Dunwall, lies character that most games cannot touch. 3: The Walking Dead The Walking Dead represents a grand example in the realm of attempts at episodic adventures. Really in a way there are too few game elements in The Walking Dead to justify calling it a game. Its amazing world, great voice actors and the tough decisions it throws at you constantly will have you completely forget about this though. It's a compelling story that grabs you from the opening of the game and doesn't let go until its controversial ending in the last chapter. The choice-system gives you the feeling that you're creating your own story, which is why you'll lose yourself in the characters in no-time and it will force you to feel the consequences of actions taken. This game allowed me to get angry when I found what a stranger had done, frustration when I found someone in our party had lied, and regret when I realised I had to let a friend down. It also introduced me to one of my all time favourite Video Game characters in Clementine. 4: Mass Effect 3 With Mass Effect, Bioware created something really unique. A fascinating universe that blends genres and transcends the form of entertainment it is played on. It feels like a movie franchise over the three games. Overall, this game delivers most of what it promised. This game offers one of the greatest experiences in terms of story and character development. There were two moments in the game where it hit my hard. Yes, the ending was a bit of a disappointment before the DLC and I didn’t get possibly the exact closure I was hoping for, but every moment leading up to that ending was nothing short of brilliant. A series I'd want to experience all over again. Friends will die, whole species will die, all because of the decisions that you must make for the greater good. 5: Journey I'll be the first to admit I didn't grasp what "Journey" was about at first. But the more I played, the more I began to understand. Without a word of dialogue, the game transports players to a magical desert where they journey toward a mysterious mountain and discovery is the object of the game. By encouraging you to assist other players on the same path, "Journey" tugs at your emotions and maintains a connection that makes it hard to put down. Along the way you might find another player on your journey, you might travel together and should that companion be lost you will feel it. You do not know who that person is, you cannot communicate with them except through song.When the credits appear at the end, only then it shows you who it was. The game is over too quickly, but every replay allows for more exposure to its fantastic world. Save this game for a rainy day where you're feeling a little melancholy, a little tired of the world around, close the door on society and make sure no one can interrupt you for the next two hours and be absorbed into what will be a touching two hours of gaming. Better yet it is coming to PC this year. 6: Far Cry 3 The easiest way to describe Far Cry 3 is to say it's Skyrim with guns. The sheer amount of tasks the game presents the player from hunting, to crafting, to outpost looting -- but on top of that is a beautiful looking game that works on many levels. Although I admit in the time since I've taken for granted many of the features which though revolutionary at the time have now been done better in many games. It's undeniable that this game has some of the best character development of any games I've ever played. Vaas, and even Hoyt to a lesser extent, makes a great antagonist, but it's the protagonist Jason Brody who fascinates me. His progression from naive California trust fund kid to world renowned psychopathic mercenary is just awesome. It's one of the few games where I feel like the protagonist really says what I'm thinking. In particular the flamethrower level is without a doubt the most exhilarating level of any game I've ever played. 7: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning There's never a dull moment in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. There's a new item at practically every turn, and you can't travel more than a few feet without stumbling upon a side-quest.The amount and variety of quests bring an MMO flow to a single-player experience in a way. The graphics aren't amazing but the colours and art style truly hold up. I prefer colourful stylised graphics over realistic ones in high fantasy games such as this! The combat is worlds above anything else in this genre and every dungeon I entered is unique and not recycled. Players always have one skill or another that they can be honing, and the option to visit the Fateweavers is always there for a change of pace. The only minor issue I had with this game is that the camera is kinda close to my character, but that is very minor. 8: Hotline Miami A drug induced coma of violence, strategy, death and rebirth. Hotline Miami isn't for everyone. It's brutal, bloody and extraordinarily unforgiving. Despite all of my frustrations, after extended breaks, I found myself coming back for more. Hotline Miami's aesthetic, music and frenetic action have an allure unexplained either by me. Maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment. 9: Thomas Was Alone This game's storyline is like a reincarnation of Douglas Adams. I found myself smiling through the whole game. The puzzles are easy to understand and they make you want to keep solving them to get more of the story. Perfect example of how indie games pack a whole new experience to the average gamer. Thomas Was Alone is a worthwhile experience that rises above its basic mechanics to prove heartfelt and engaging in unexpected ways. 10: Lollipop Chainsaw This game is absurd, crazy and funny on so many levels. I'm just going to say it right now. Video games have had a habit of taking themselves a bit too seriously and this game is the exact opposite. It's silly, ludicrous and vulgar. I love how over the top the gameplay was and how outrageous the dialogue is throughout. Juliet, the protagonist, is literally a walking stereotype that is fun-loving and youthful and its clear that the developers use this to their advantage which often makes for hilarious scenes. Style similar to grindhouse films, the game is effectively a parody and full of satire to the concept and the idea of the game is fantastic. The combat can be slightly repetitive but visually it is always full of excitement as Juliet destroys her zombie enemies with bursts of pink hearts and rainbows. Comment below if you agree or disagree, maybe what changes you'd make and i'll be back with 2013 sometime soon
  4. Booker’s Journal: Positives: In terms of positives for my brand, first off i feel we have a solid selection of future main eventers spread across the NXT brand with age on their side being just in their early 30s for the most part. Names like Aleister Black, Keith Lee, Killer Kross, Matt Riddle, Ricochet among them. While not so prominent stars like Dio Maddin, Bronson Reed and Austin Theory have the star quality to make something on NXT. Alongside that our tag team division by the end of the draft excelled beyond expectations. Even though we might not have industry reliables such as The New Day or NXT standouts like Undisputed Era. Being able to acquire The Artist Collective (Zayn, Cesaro & Nakamura) who are all veterans of the business, memorable moments during the history of NXT and championship reigns on the yellow brand. People praised for their in ring skill working with young promising teams like Street Profits, Ricochet & Alexander, Murphy & Theory and The Prestige leaves me beyond hopeful for a continuously thriving division. Negatives: My major negative is real life incidents plaguing the ongoing booking. We drafted these rosters before the #SpeakingOut Movement took off and so by this point some names like Jordan Devlin, Velveteen Dream and Matt Riddle must be sticking out to you. Right now they're on the WWE roster and tools i'll need to utilise. But as time goes on and for example the Velveteen Dream situation reaches what feels like an inevitability i'll be forced to reevaluate the roster. Another negative potentially is the age gap between my top stars and my younger growing stars. I tried to keep this NXT as close to the original spirit of the brand as I could while also realising that I did need some stars to stay afloat during this series. Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley, Shinsuke Nakamura, Jeff Hardy are some of the top stars in popularity and experience for NXT and all are over 40 years or just on. While I do have Drew McIntyre who is the flavour of the month I'll need to carefully balance raising the value of the rest of the roster while not devaluing the stars I have signed. Though I'm happy to have the women's roster I signed, a potential issue going forward might be Charlotte Flair on this brand. She dwarfs most if not all of the women in terms of popularity so concerns of her working fairly with the talent has popped in my mind. Being a driven individual she is far from unreliable but it will soon be apparent what her role in the future of NXT will play. Wednesday Night NXT Championships:
  5. Bitter Rivals "He wanted a fight, i gave him a fight. I gave him the fight of his life!!" Eddie and Mysterio were like brothers, they won the tag team championships together. The chemistry and bond was off the charts but Mysterio seemed to be a star shining brighter than Eddie. As Austin explained before me at Wrestlemania after the two friends had a hard fought battle, to tear the house down, Rey Mysterio stood tall on the grandest stage. An angry Eddie Guerrero shocked would swallow his pride and shake Rey’s hand, but it wasn’t long until all this tension boiled over. No longer one half of the tag team champions, Rey Mysterio would compete in a Street Fight on Smackdown against the instigator Chavo Guerrero, only to get attacked by the new tag team champions MNM along with Chavo Guerrero after a chair assisted victory for Mysterio. MNM at the time were the tag team champions after Eddie refused to tag in and left Rey at ringside. Eddie would come out and clean house, apparently to save Rey and put their past problems behind them. This was something he had failed to do in a similar situation a couple weeks beforehand, but would attribute it to car problems. He also would interfere in a match Rey had in the bag against JBL, this time apologising for just being selfish. However, Eddie would show what he had in mind all along by turning the tables and viciously assaulting Rey, ripping his mask and busting him open in the process. The Purpose The following week this would be his explanation "I've known Eddie Guerrero over 10 years. And i can tell you over those 10 years that I..I never knew that such a class act Eddie was. He has changed. I don't know what has happened he is just a different person. I don't know this Eddie Guerrero " - Tazz "Why Eddie Why?" signs covered the audience in distraught and confusion over the betrayal. One that might've felt like it was coming in retrospect but in the moment was shocking. They kept Eddie's "Lie Cheat and Steal" music even as a heel but slowed down the beat and made it darker and more intimidating. Without the usual showmanship he is known for Guerrero slowly made his way to the ring, collecting a chair from ringside as the commentary team share their dismay at the actions they witnessed a week prior. "Eddie Sucks!" chants filled the arena as he stood in silence waiting to explain his actions. Screaming into the microphone Eddie claimed Rey made him do it. He wanted a fight, and he got the fight of his life! Eddie claimed, while grasping the ripped mask of Rey in his hand. "Do you think that makes me happy?! I didn't want to do it Rey! Why did you make me do it! It's your fault!" Calming he explains that blessing come in disguises, that now his eyes were open and realised what Rey was doing to him. Not just Rey but the fans in the audience and at home as well. The fans living vicariously though him made him do it by stealing his love, his passion, his energy, his Latino Heat. They forced him to take it back, and he did. And liked it. "I like what i'm feeling Rey..." At Judgement Day, warning no one would want to think about taking away his Latino Heat again. And so he advised Rey not to return as he promised. He told Rey he wouldn’t want to take away Dominick and Aalyah’s papa from them, with a sinister and sickening smile forming on his face. He said he had Rey’s blood his hands, but if he returned; he’d have his life. Against Eddie’s orders, Rey would return at Judgement Day to face the man that had given him the beating of his life weeks earlier. You could feel the tension between them a long staredown to start the match, Eddie Guerrero talking down Rey for even deciding to go through with this match followed by slaps before Mysterio took over with punches to shake his former friend, followed with kicks to the ribs of Guerrero. Quickly Guerrero bails to the floor to try and recover but Mysterio is hot in pursuit going after him. Catching him off guard Guerrero sends Mysterio into the steel steps at ringside. Not letting him rest Guerrero then sends Mysterio shoulder first into the ring post, then a spinebuster onto the announce table, but it wasn’t hard enough to break it. So Guerrero slammed Mysterio onto the table again for good measure. Still not breaking the referee makes Eddie bring Rey back in the ring to continue the match. Guerrero toys with Rey, kicking him in the face and pushing him over as Rey trys to compose himself. Now with the upper-hand Eddie remained in control with a belly to back suplex on Mysterio and then applies the abdominal stretch submission. Eddie smiles as the body of Rey hangs between his legs. Guerrero deserves more recognition for this heel run because he did everything brilliantly. The looks, the change in demeanour, it was all masterful. Rey gets a near fall on a springboard headbutt that the crowd bit on. They are mixed in who they are rooting for though. They slug it out, but like a genius, Eddie dropkicks the knee before moving to a Boston Crab. Eddie moves to an STF that is much better than the one Cena does. To show how sick he is, he slides Rey face first outside and brings the stairs into play. It’s a callback to Eddie taking him out with a brainbuster on the steps weeks prior. Rey counters and hits a 619 around the ring post which might've been my favourite moment of the match, while commentary continues repeating how Rey never gives up. Inside, Rey actually hits a big boot and is explosive right now. When Rey started to finally put up substantial offence and threatened to win the match, Chavo distracted the referee, allowing Eddie get a steel chair from outside the ring. Although Rey blocked his first attempt at using it into a 619, Eddie would swing at Rey when he came off the top rope for a West Coast Pop. The referee entered the ring at this point, catching the entire sequence, thus disqualifying Eddie. Eddie attacked after the match, battering Rey in the back with the chair four times. However, he still sought that victory that had alluded him over the man that seemingly had his number. The Torture On the June 30 episode of SmackDown!, Guerrero threatened to reveal a secret about Mysterio and his son Dominick. Using this secret he toyed with Rey Myserio. Above is a great example of the deluted mind of Eddie where Rey Mysterio after begging him to leave his family alone the previous week on Smackdown had been informed about a WWE Tag Team Championship match he had been booked in alongside Eddie. Against the men who they had lost the championships previously. Sitting alone in his locker room the atmosphere is tense but Eddie is calm and coy to Rey entering. Mysteiro goes on to repeat some of the same points to Eddie, explaining how he had done some messed up things to his family, his heritage, ect in the past but that holding the secret over his families head...Rey asked Eddie to please not go there. Eddie who had been mimicking/mocking Rey during the conversation in his way denied Rey and doubled down on him being his partner that night. "Tonight I have the opportunity of becoming one part of the WWE Tag Team Champion. And i need a partner. Which happens to by..you. I mean come on! You know you're awesome! You've only beaten me five times in a row! Who else could i have better..than you." "You don't understand! I don't want to be your partner!" "Rey! You're hurting my feelings holmes!" Using that tag team match as a way to continue to play with Rey, he would attack him and allow MNM to take advantage of the numbers game until Rey fought back and almost won the match by himself. Frustrated Eddie rushed from his ring side seat and broke up the pin, watching from the turnbuckle to make sure MNM finished the job, saying "Thank You" caught by the camera after the bell rang. Eddie would continue to hold the threat of the secret over Rey’s head in order to get another match with him. He wanted this match to finally defeat Rey Mysterio, so he told Rey that if he didn’t not only accept the the match, but win the match at Great American Bash, then he would reveal the secret. His wife Vickie would plead for him to stop, but wouldn’t let in. When she said the secret wasn’t worth their family, he yelled at her and demanded she and their two kids leave. He’d berate her the following week on commentary, along with Rey and all his family. Eddie Guerrero was a changed, cold-hearted man that was addicted to manipulating and defeating Rey Mysterio at all costs. Before their match, Eddie informed Josh Mathews in a backstage interview that Rey’s son Dominick would have to sit at ringside during his match with his father. That, or he would be revealing the secret that Rey was trying to keep private. To begin Cole apologies for being biased in this match which is chuckle worthy given what would come from Cole in like 5 years. But he is really good at his job and to show a great example of this, during the match there we vocal Eddie chants coming from the crowd at moments which weren't ignored. "You can hear, you can't ignore them. The 'Let's Go Eddie' chants. There are people in this society and people who are going to want Eddie to win this match up because they want him to reveal the secret! Curiosity seekers" - Micheal Cole Isn't that better than the modern day "WOAH TIPSY TURVY!" explanation? Dominic is at ringside, the camera turning back to him frequently throughout the match which might've not been the best idea because the kid isn't an actor. But i'll give the kid credit that he tried. Both men argue over Dominick at the beginning of the match. To begin the match Eddie forces a handshake for the sake of Dominic and Rey is getting madder and madder. Rey finally snaps and hammers away as the bell rings. He gets things going and hits the bulldog for two. We keep stopping so Eddie can smile at Dominic. With Dominick watching at ringside, Rey got off to an inspired start. Emotion was oozing out of his body leaving one to wonder if the stipulation forcing Dominick to watch was a mistake, perhaps this would will Rey to victory. The gameplans for each man were revealed throughout the match, and were polar opposite. Rey wanted to end it as quickly as possible to get his son out of harm’s way and to end the nightmare he was living. On the other side Eddie wanted to prolong the agony for Rey and his son with a slow, methodical beatdown. This couldn’t have been displayed better at the end. After Eddie taunted Dominick throughout the match, even using him as a shield at one point and sarcastically kissing him on the cheek, he looked into his eyes with a sly smile one more time just before he landed the Frogsplash on this poor kid’s father. He taunted Dominick for a few seconds before a lackadaisical pin attempt that Rey would counter; 1, 2, 3! Rey rolled to the outside and celebrated with Dominick, but the elation wouldn’t last for long. After all, Eddie did lie, cheat and steal. I'm Your Papi 'I promised my wife I'd keep my mouth shut if you beat me at the Great American Bash, which you did. But guess what? I LIED!' Despite losing at Great American Bash, Eddie revealed his secret; Rey wasn’t Dominick’s father, he was. He was Dominick’s biological father and he had intentions of getting him back. Due to a reasonable, but still kind of silly, explanation involving Eddie giving up Dominic at birth for Rey to have as his own, Guerrero was now demanding that Mysterio would give Dominic back to him…his REAL father. After weeks of the two going at each other’s throats over it with awesome and creepy promos from Guerrero’s entitled “Eddie’s Bedtime Stories”. During a segment where they duo argued for custody of Dominic. Rey proposed that him and Eddie would put Dominic’s custody on the line in a ladder match. Eddie accepted and Rey then cut arguably one of the best promos that he’s ever done. “You’ve beaten addition, Eddie…You’ve beaten the streets…You’ve beaten your past and became WWE Champion…but you haven’t beaten Rey Mysterio! And if take Dominic away from me, then the only thing Dominic is going to know about Eddie Guerrero is that he’s a chickenshit!” …DAMN. So at SummerSlam, Rey Mysterio would face Eddie Guerrero in a ladder match for the custody of Dominic. "I'm going to climb this ladder for every father who loves his son!" - Eddie Guerrero A lot of people criticised the introduction of the 'Eddie as Dominick's father' storyline, complaining that it turned a storyline built on respect and wins and losses into a soap opera. It was actually Eddie himself who felt the storyline could use a soap opera element in an effort to further draw in the Hispanic demographic. As for Rey, he was just happy that his son could accompany him to work. "The angle was Eddie's idea. I'm not sure where exactly it came from. There was a somewhat similar storyline back in ECW with Sandman and Raven, with Sandman's son turning on him, though I never really asked if it had inspired Eddie. My wife and I talked with Dominik about the storyline and what he would have to do—if he wanted to do it. He was on the fence about doing it, I think, until he spoke to Eddie himself. Eddie smartened him up about what it would involve. I think Eddie talked to him longer than I did. He wanted to make sure Dominic was cool with it." - Interview 2009, Rey Mysteiro Earlier in the night Eddie Guerrero was in the locker room when Vickie showed up to talk to him. Vickie said this is really about Eddie wanting to beat Rey Mysterio and Eddie lied by saying that this is about Dominick. Vickie said this is about hurting Rey to be the better man. Eddie said he needed somebody to carry on the Guerrero legacy. Vickie told Eddie she loved him and give him a kiss. She spoke about how Eddie had a heart of gold, but this person won’t let him beat Rey. Eddie was mad that she thinks that he can’t beat Rey, so he told her to support him by leaving the room. Vickie left and Eddie talked to himself about how he’s going to beat Rey Mysterio. This segment foreshadowing later events. There was a briefcase hanging above the ring that included the custody papers for Dominick. That’s what the wrestlers would battle for in this match. Tazz said that he was rooting for Mysterio to win. Eddie Guerrero entered first to boos. Eddie walked over to Dominick, who was in the first row standing beside an actress that they claimed was a social worker. Dominick was about 8 years old. Tazz called Eddie a sick man. Rey Mysterio got a big ovation for his entrance. Mysterio walked over to his son Dominick at ringside with Cole noting that Dominick didn’t speak to Rey for a few weeks. Mysterio hugged his son and kissed him on the forehead. Cole noted that he adopted both of his sons while saying that just because you are not the biological father doesn’t mean you can’t be a father. Mysterio posed in the ring and Guerrero shook the hand of the social worker at ringside. The match was on! The final match to determine the fate of Dominics future. Eddie’s plan to use the ladder as a weapon to weaken Rey was working to perfection when Dominic came out of the stands, into the ring and began shaking the ladder while Eddie was climbing. Eddie would trap Dominic in the corner and nearly slap him, until Rey Mysterio came to the rescue. The fate of a little boy quite literally hung in the balance. From this moment forward, Rey would fight with a purpose. From a 619 and the drop of dime on a ladder to a sunset flip to Eddie off the ladder, Rey was fighting for the love of his son His aggressive style would backfire, though, when Eddie kicked the ladder out from under him. Rey held onto the briefcase, swaying in the air, before eventually falling into the arms of Eddie into a vicious powerbomb. Eddie trapped Rey underneath the ladder, so he could watch as the custody of his adopted son rot away just like his friendship with Eddie over the past number of months. Eddie taunted Rey, but Rey would move the ladder as Eddie attempted to unhook the briefcase. Rey pulled him down to even things out once again. In the end, it would be Eddie’s own wife that cost him the match. Vickie realised that Eddie wasn’t doing this for Dominic, but rather his ego. She would push the ladder over on him, allowing Rey to win and reunite with his son. Nothing Left To Lose How can you lose when you’ve already lost everything? That was the question Eddie Guerrero asked prior to his final encounter with Rey inside a steel cage on SmackDown. He had lost the trust Rey, Dominic, the fans and his family. He had lost the vibrant joy he once had for professional wrestling. Now a shell of his former self Eddie Guerrero awaited the entrance of Rey Mysterio without an expression on his face. "Look at the face of this guy..." - Tazz Contrary of their previous matches Eddie took the edge to begin with before Rey quickly battled his way into it. While he couldn’t hit the 619, the ever-inventive Rey Mysterio would find ways to keep Eddie down. Rey’s eagerness to end the match would damage his chances however. It’d give Eddie a chance to catch his breath before ripping him off the cage and darting him around like a pinball in a pinball machine. The spot of the match occurred when Rey and Eddie battled on the top of the steel cage, then the top rope, ending with Rey drop-kicking Latino Heat to the canvas. When on top of the cage, both superstars nearly fell 20 feet to victory. Rey would climb the cage to take advantage of a huricanrana from the second rope, but an injured knee would slow him down. He’d fight off Eddie momentarily, before turning around and leaping off for a crossbody. Unfortunately for him, nobody was home. Eddie teased walking through the door, getting two steps down before opting to hit one final Frogsplash; 1, 2, 3! Alas, Eddie Guerrero had beaten Rey Mysterio! The monkey was off his back. Sadly enough, this would also be the last time he would even wrestle Rey. What a ride. I found this rivalry to be one of the most intense and interesting feuds that I’ve ever seen before. Witnessing two cruiserweight icons in their own rights rising up to take centre stage in a top-level feud akin to heavyweight legends before them was an awesome thing to behold. Eddie and Rey now looked like “great main-eventers” even with Eddie already being a former World Champion in his own right. It’s still sad to think of the crazy ass potential Eddie would have had in the permanent main-event scene (cutting sick promos, doing funny and insane storylines). But it’s good to go back to this feud with him and Rey to see them at their best and witness how a rivalry should be done. Legacy A little under two months after partaking in the feud-capping steel cage bout with Rey Mysterio on SmackDown, Eddie Guerrero would be found unresponsive in his Minneapolis, Minnesota hotel room by Chavo Guerrero. Chavo would attempt CPR, but to no avail. Eddie would be pronounced dead when paramedics arrived the scene, at just 38 years old. According to stories Eddie was scheduled to win the World Heavyweight Championship that night at the SmackDown tapings against Batista and Randy Orton. This would’ve been his first reign with the title, and just his second world title in the WWE but people have disputed it. He would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006 by Mysterio, Chavo and Chris Benoit the night before WrestleMania 22. The next night, Rey Mysterio won his first World Heavyweight Championship and dedicated it to the memory of his best friend. Eddie Guerrero was a great wrestler, a great entertainer and a great man with lots of life still ahead of him. Years after his death, Eddie’s indelible mark on the professional wrestling business is unquestionably as big as ever. He is forever remembered as one of the greatest, as well as one of the most charismatic and lovable superstars in WWE history. Viva la raza
  6. WWF Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon - WrestleMania X 1994 The Prelude Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon are two of the greatest wrestlers in WWE history. One was a rising star and known the world over for his in-ring skills. The other was one of the best gimmicks WWE had at the time. They were bitter rivals inside the ring, but close friends outside it. The chemistry they had with each other was something special. They proved that in their many confrontations and especially above all in this match. A match referenced and re-watched over and over to this day. So how did we get here? Well in similar fashion to my last review real life issues dictated the story being created. In late 1993, Michael's was suspended from WWE. The on-screen explanation was that he didn’t defend his Intercontinental Championship enough. The legit reason was a steroid suspension, but Michaels denied he used them always. He was only off television for about two months because he subbed in for Jerry Lawler in a losing effort at Survivor Series 1993. While he was gone, Razor Ramon won the the championship on an episode of RAW pinning Rick Martel and from there on acted as the rightful champion. His reign was soon interrupted though when Shawn Michaels returned to the company but he also carried with him the WWF Intercontinental Championship because as he declared with confidence, he had never actually been defeated as champion. So WWE had two Intercontinental Champions, both of whom thought they had a legitimate claim to the honour. To settle their differences Shawn and Razor met at WrestleMania X in a rarely-seen Ladder match for both championship belts. This would be the first televised ladder match in WWF history since the ladder match concept was created in the companies narrative so that the winner would claim both belts. The match type itself was actually created over 20 years prior back in 1972 Stampede Wrestling. The influence of that match in the company was passed down 1983 where Bret Hart faced off against Bad News Allen in a Ladder Match. As dangerous as it could ever be with flimsy equipment, Bret Hart went on to join the WWF the next year in 1984, and, in the early 1990s, suggested this type of match to Vince McMahon, years before the gimmick achieved its eventual popularity after the match we're about to talk about. We almost missed out on this being the first in the company as well. There was one match, unaired until over a decade later that can claim to be the first ever ladder match in the WWF. A match in which Hart defeated Shawn Michaels to retain the WWF Intercontinental Championship during his reign. This match was held in July 21, 1992 nearly two years before WrestleMania X. The match was taped but never aired on television, and remained widely unseen. The two men actually told Jim Ross in an interview how the match was planned along with an intended ladder rematch that never materialised. History would've been different that's for sure. Not much..only slightly. In the modern age of wrestling it feels at time that the ladder match has become not so much a WWE staple but more of a crutch. Look i love ladder matches. I'll sit back and watch in awe in what some of the men and womnen put themselves through during the Money in the Bank PPV but at the same time i feel with speciality matches like this an effort should be attempted to make them feel as such. If Money in the Bank was one of thew times a year we saw the ladders and we didn't have a ladder match to determine the number one contender for a championship. Purpose over prop. Once upon a time the ladder match was a fresh and exciting idea that still presumably hurt like hell. Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon walked into Madison Square Garden at WrestleMania X and started a love affair that would continue in WWE on and off until the closing of WCW and beyond. The Match This is for the WWF (Undisputed) Intercontinental Championship. Both Razor Ramon’s real and Shawn Michael's old Intercontinental Championships hang above the ring as the two make their entrance. Michaels walked out with his bodyguard Diesel who was actually a participant in the Battle Royal that determined the two men to compete over the vacant Intercontinental Championship. I love Razor Ramon’s theme music to this day. Shawn walked around the ladder while Razor walked under it, not fearing the jinx of walking under a ladder. "Look at this Razor Ramon, did you see what he just did?" - Vince McMahon "Yeah! What an idiot! Do you think that's not bad luck? He walked right under the ladder! Sealed his fate! Hahah!" - Jerry Lawler AND HERE WE GO! Both men lock up and exchange quick holds. Razor whips Michaels but Michaels goes for a hip toss but it’s blocked by razor. Michaels does a standing back flip to try and regain control, but Razor hits a big chokeslam out of nowhere. Another Irish whip by Razor, but Michaels ducks a pair of clotheslines and hits a running neckbreaker. Razor blocks a turnbuckle smash and charges Michaels but he dodges and Razor flies through the ropes. Diesel knocks Razor down ringside as there are no disqualifications, calling out the referee "What did you see? Huh?". But Earl Hebner calls Diesel’s bullshit and sends him to the back. Diesel shows off the acting skills that got him a part in Ninja Turtles II as he argues before going backstage. "We need to get Mr. Perfect back out here to referee this match too" - Jerry Lawler Shawn annoyed at losing his right hand man leans over the ropes but only gets sent back into the ring by Razor who hits a strong right hand that knocks Michaels down. Taking back control after the interference Razor whips Michaels into the turnbuckle so hard he does the turnbuckle flip (love those), and then gets tossed outside. The commentary team are both worried now as Razor rips off the ringside padding but Michaels tosses him back into the ring before he is able to use it as intended. But not for long, Razor gains control and looks to be going for the Razor’s Edge right on the concrete.!I was physically wincing at the thought but Michaels back body drops him out of the ring and onto that exposed concrete at ringside instead. That has got to hurt! No matter how tough you are, that has to hurt. With Razor now out for the moment Shawn Michaels holds his back as he rushes to go grab the ladder and drag it to the ring but Razor cuts him off, right hand to stop him in his track and tosses him back into the ring. Then as Razor tried to bring the ladder into the ring, Michaels kicked the ladder into Razor’s ribs. That was a fantastic use of the ladder as a weapon and as i'm watching this match again i still can't believe how easily it is to get invested into this match. "Razor Ramon will be going to his doctor! You know the only problem is that his doctor writes his prescriptions in Spray Paint!" - Jerry Lawler I really want to say how much i love so far the chemistry between Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon on commentary. Lawler with his jokes are at their peak with jabs at the crowd, Ramon and anything he feels like. And Vince has this old school feel where he is just in awe and shock of what they are able to do with the ladder. Every big move he goes silent for a moment "Oh..oh my god" and "I didn't think it was possible to use the ladder like this". Back to the match Michaels is in control now as he smashes the ladder into Razor’s gut and then smashes it into his stomach and back. The trifecta. The screams from the crowd after every collision shows just how conditioned modern fans are to the violence of ladder matches. You need Jeff Hardy throwing himself to the outside to get a gasp at times like that. Razor dangles in the ropes as Michaels tosses the ladder into Razor’s back. The way Razor is on the ground he seems dead and out but in all miracles he drags himself up. Michaels sets the ladder up and starts the first climb of the match as the crowd cheers wildly but finally as he nears the championship Razor grabs his leg, then he grabs the Show Stoppers tights and pulls them down so his ass can be seen throughout the arena. A full moon for the millions watching at home and the screams might've been louder than the ladder shots used before. "You might say that Shawn Micheals has made ah..you know what of himself" - Vince McMahon All that though only for Razor to get kicked off, landing on his back. Shawn with his tights still pulled down repositions himself as Shawn hits a diving elbow from the ladder! The screams still alive as he finally pulls them up. He then scoop slams Razor on the canvas. Then, Michaels climbs the top rope and hits his famous move, the move that made him immortal. Michaels dives off from the second rung of the top of the ladder and splashes onto Razor. Wow. That was gorgeous. Shawn earns “unbelievable” claims from McMahon and even Lawler is speechless for the first time this match. Shawn climbs the ladder and is fingertips away from the titles when Razor pushes the ladder from under him. That sends Michaels throat-first into the top rope as the crowd explodes for a moment. They both get up and have a double collision. Both men knocked unconscious Vince declares as Lawler wonders if either man could finish the match after what they had been through. Slowly Michaels gets to his feet, eventually he sets up the ladder in a corner and tries to whip Razor into it, but it’s reversed and Michaels ends up kissing the ladder and falling out of the ring. Does anyone fall out of the ring like Michaels? He is a human crash dummy in the most respectful way possible. Razor takes the ladder with him outside the ring and starts smashing Michaels with it, getting revenge from before. Following Michaels as they travel the complete ringside before ending up in front of the ramp. There he sets the ladder outside against the ring and slingshots Michaels into the ladder! There is a funny moment where you see Shawn look backwards behind him before he pushes him down with the ladder which then falls on top of Michaels. Back in the ring, Razor smashes the ladder head into Michaels’ head which sends Michaels outside of the opposite side of the ring. The damage had been dealt and the crowd feels this is his chance. Razor sets up the ladder and starts climbing, slowly after all the pain he has withstood but Michaels climbs the turnbuckle closest to him, Lawler shouting "HE IS SUPERMAN!" after he has recovered to save his championship. Off the turnbuckle he dives, knocking the ladder down. "Razors a little bit taller than Micheals!" - Vince McMahon "BUT SHAWNS A STEP HIGHER!" - Jerry Lawler They both climb the same ladder from opposite sides and start brawling at the top. Strong right hands by both but Razor tosses Michaels off yet they both fall off. Razor reaches the top and touches the titles, but Michaels kicks the ladder which sends Razor falling back down again. Michaels gets up slowly and pushes the ladder onto Razor. He whips Razor and Razor ducks a clothesline but eats a superkick instead. Michaels signals the end and hits a strong belly-to-back piledriver. Shawn lifts the ladder up and climbs onto the top turnbuckle, and then hits a diving splash that sends the ladder into Razor’s chest. Fantastic move. "Razors under the ladder for the second time! Double back luck! Haha!" - Jerry Lawler In the end, it’s Michaels’ arrogance that screws him. As he looks destined to win, he can’t help himself from setting up the ladder over Razor, gloating before he’s even got his hands on the belts. That means that when The Bad Guy recovers, he’s already in place to send Shawn tumbling down towards the ropes where HBK sprinkles a bit of magic and somehow ends up tied up in them. He can’t move. The crowd is electric. Shawn is so close, he’s desperately trying to free himself. He finally frees himself makes it to his feet but Razor has reached the top of the ladder. Shawn falls to the mat as razor clasps the belts in victory. WHAT. A. MATCH! Say what you want about the Kliq and their backstage politics but you can’t deny that whenever two members of the group met in the centre of the ring, they usually brought the goods with them and this match was the perfect example of that. From beginning to end, I was on the edge of my seat watching Razor and HBK beat the ever loving crap out of each other. There aren’t a lot of matches in WrestleMania history that the majority of the public can agree are five-star matches and one of the best in wrestling history, but Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 10 is one of them. It’s not just of the best matches in WrestleMania history, but it’s one of the best matches in wrestling history. You get caught up not by the bumps which, by modern standards, are rather tame but by two brilliant wrestlers going to war. Shawn is all action, never stopping as he darts around the ring, continually looking for an opening and trying to chop away at Razor. Ramon meanwhile, is the coolest guy in the room, effortlessly lifting HBK for a chokeslam early on and oozing charisma as he tries to swat away this annoying fly. The ladder is an extension of the story, not the whole thing. Even as i'm writing this i want to watch it again, you can remember all the key moments easily. It is picture perfect and i'd recommend going to watch it if you have free time. The Aftermath This would kickstart one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions in WWE/WWF history. Razor Ramon in this reign held the championship for 198 days before dropping the championship to Diesel in 1994. But on a grander scale after the ladder match it put Ramon over the next 2 years as the quintessential Intercontinental Champion. Holding the Intercontinental Championship on four separate occasions, for a total of 438 days. On August 28, Michaels and Diesel captured the WWF Tag Team Championship from The Headshrinkers (Samu and Fatu). The next day at SummerSlam, Diesel lost the Intercontinental Championship to Razor Ramon when Michaels accidentally superkicked Diesel. This triggered a split between Michaels and Diesel, a storyline that was drawn out until Survivor Series that November. This moment also seemed to mark the end of Razor's feud with Michaels and Diesel. Ramon would then engage in a bitter feud with Jeff Jarrett over the Intercontinental Championship that would go back and forth all the way to WrestleMania XI. Meanwhile Michaels went on to win the Royal Rumble in 1995, which set up a championship grudge match at WrestleMania XI against Diesel (who had gone on to win the WWF Championship from Bob Backlund). WrestleMania XI's WWF Championship grudge match between Diesel and Shawn Micheals will be done by @Austin Omega
  7. People will call almost anything a Cinderella story that involves a good thing happening to someone nice. We slap that title on movies and books, but also on basketball games won by tiny schools, small businesses that thrive and even political ascendancies that upend established powers. But god damn it if this isn't the true definition of the Cinderella story in a professional wrestling context I don't know what is. Though my single piece of friendly advice before you read further is that if you want a happy ending i'll stop half way. The Gut Check was rumoured and eventually did return this year with Impact Wrestling in March with young hopefuls working alongside Scott D'Amore in Youtube segments, sometimes aired on television with the eventual winner being "The Suplex Shōgun Jackson Stone right before COVID-19 became a pandemic. What might surprise people to find out is that TNA aka Impact Wrestling and its 'Gut Check' was established way before it aired on television in 2012. It is pretty much their version of a performance tryout. Seeing entrants rated on the basis of their performance in five categories. Back bump", mat techniques, ring interviews, running the ropes and squat challenge. Basics right? The initial winners were Sirelda (Jaime Dauncey) and Jon Bolen respectively, with Sirelda and Bolen rewarded with a $4,000 and an appearance on TNA TV which they both would go on to do, even appearing on PPVs respectively with Sirelda gaining more success in the company during their time. Working alongside AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels briefly and a brief feud with Gail Kim. In April 2012, Gut Check began being featured as a regular segment where contestants wrestled a match against a TNA wrestler, after which their performance was evaluated by three judges. Contestants who received a "yes" from at least two of the judges were awarded a contract with TNA and sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling for further training. Now on paper right now that sounds like a great concept right? Praise towards the company for highlight independent talents against established names in decent contests. In a way it is kind of what AEW Dark is doing right now with hiring local and national talent to put against contracted wrestlers. Over the history of the concept notable names that competed on Gut Check included Joey Ryan (Unsuccessful) , Brian Cage (Unsuccessful), Samuel Shaw aka NXT’s Dexter Lumis (Successful), Taeler Hendrix (Successful), Christian York (Successful), Ivelisse (Successful) and Adam Pearce (Unsuccessful). For TNA’s Gut Check segment, where upcoming prospects wrestle in a try-out match for their chance at a TNA contract. Sadly though over and over again, the third time was just like the first and second—the wrong decision was made. On television Gut Check blurs the lines between kayfabe and reality, making it difficult to know who is going to get the Yes. If seeing someone like Joey Ryan, who despite his crimes was at the time a very experienced independent wrestler, was told no in its earliest version doesn't give you that answer i'm not sure what will. I think most fans know TNA has a very strong idea of the outcome of each wrestler’s Gut Check before it takes place...right? Well that's the funny thing about live television. Firstly we can’t even pretend to know what truly goes on backstage, or even the full potential of the Gut Check contestants unless we've seen them compete before. In theory as viewers, our judgement is based upon the one televised match. So even at their peak when trying to compete with WWE, TNA aka Impact Wrestling cannot afford to hand out frivolously new contracts per year unless you're Bram with your constant stream of guaranteed contracts, so viewers should expect very few Gut Check contestants to actually get a contract. Right? The standard answer from the judges should be no unless the performer truly shines. Well that brings us to the luckiest and unluckiest superstar to run the 'Gut Check'. Let me introduce you to Alex Silva, who stepped up to the challenge in April. Many wouldn’t have thought it possible, but he was like a skinnier and less-charismatic Randy Orton or a buff Corey Graves. Depending on your scale. His performance in a brief losing effort to Robbie E was not that captivating but it at the same time wasn't the worst match i had seen. But amongst the names he was working alongside to fight for a contract he seemed like an easy miss. With the early comments from the judges such as "I like the attitude. But like I've told a lot of girls in my time. Come back to me when you're a grown up because you're still living in a paper doll world" - Ric Flair Obviously Ric Flairs mind was elsewhere (remember that) and based on his performance alone, Alex Silva earning a contract also makes every squash opponent a likely candidate. But then a miracle happened. The segment filmed in a cinematic style allowed Alex Silva to have his moment in a unique way when the potential winner was asked to cut the promo of his life to earn himself the contract "You need to sell your heart out. Let the fans know how much you want this!" - Al Snow, 2012. When Alex Silva took the microphone you wouldn't know what to expect. Flashbacks to the ongoing NXT game show WWE was hosting where rookies were blurting out promos about their facial hair and fondness of cheese. Silva instead blurted out a story of hardship in childhood and how he’s struggled to reach this point in his life, calling to his father with a promise of winning the contract and making his way to his dream. I'll admit i was in that moment turning aorund on Silva on the passion alone. He should have been rejected, no question, but that promo had emotion that is hard to fabricate and it seemed it hit Ric Flair in that moment all the same. Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the crowd. But it worked. By god it worked. The story goes that originally both Bruce Prichard and Ric Flair were supposed to vote No while Al Snow would have been the only judge to vote Yes. Enter Ric Flair. Flair was so impressed with Silva’s promo that he broke from the script during the segment and voted Yes. In that moment you could see the expressions of the other two judges change, their eyes widen as they think on the fly. Prichard, who later admitted also being impressed by Silva but caught off guard by Flair’s unforeseen move had to improvise and also changed his vote to Yes. Another lesson than when you’re the Nature Boy WOOOOOOOOOOOOO you do whatever the hell you damn well please! It is worth mentioning this was final appearance of Ric Flair in TNA. He quit via text message just eight days later on May 11. What a way to go. Only the Nature Boy could pull it off. So the Cinderella Story had began? Right? Well the situation stood. The unexpected incident presented two major problems for TNA. First the segment occurred on live television meaning that it could not be edited; second, at the time, not being a citizen TNA had to go out of their way to acquire a U.S. work visa for Silva. Pain in the ass sure but make the best of the hand you're dealt. So you'd think in this scenario the stars were aligning right? He convinced a Hall of Famer legend in Ric Flair to change his mind live on television , impressing him with his promo. He was able to grantee his time in OVW/TNA for at least a year, especially with a work visa being acquired. This was his time to take advantage of the moment? Well. Not so much. Ultimately Silva would wrestle only two matches for the company in a little over one year. The Gut Check match he lost was the first match and eventually with another Gut Check contestant Samuel Shaw on their second attempt after being called out for a challenge. I say second attempt because on a previous week he was scheduled to face Shaw but Silva reportedly had issues with travel and didn’t arrive at the arena until “well after” the scheduled segment had been taped. What a disaster. Silva had actually worked a dark match for TNA back in November 2011, which suggests that the company had been considering him for a while now but it seemed him accidentally winning their contest worked against him. While he did find success in the developmental territory with reigns as OVW Southern Tag Team Champion and OVW Television Champion. I do think that he had the potential to improve. His time on Gut Check seemed to bring out a new side in the ring showing aggression. But it wasn't meant to be. As time went on him making another prominent feature on TNA or even making another appearance in general was just as likely as WWE 2011 Tough Enough winner Andy Levine actually making it to televised WWE again. When Silva’s wrestling career didn’t turn out as he had planned, he went into a deep depression. He began working odd jobs as a dishwasher and janitor trying to make ends meet. He eventually met up with a friend who introduced him to a local drug dealer in the Quebec area. Silva started out by selling drugs, but by his own admission wasn’t very good at it. He then became a part of the dealer’s crew by collecting money owed and counting the money from drug transactions. As the old saying goes…”Don’t get high on your own supply” Sure enough, Silva began using drugs and became an addict. He was ultimately arrested and forced into a 7 month rehabilitation centre. After being released from rehab, Silva fell off the wagon and overdosed on Xanax. He was then facing up to 3 years in prison up in Canada. That was in January of 2018….He was 23 years old at the time of his TNA run and in 2020 he is now 30. Last i've seen he is working mostly Canadian Independent companies so maybe he has gotten past his issues. The interviews I've watched and read speak of despite a lack of success in wrestling he still enjoys learning the craft. It paints a less than glamorous truth about professional wrestling where he takes lessons, takes opportunities to wrestle men past their prime. There is one particular story on Youtube where he talks about sleeping with Sunny after a show and that receiving two sandwiches enticed him to go through with it after he was picked by her. You can ask yourself if that is true or not. Who knows, with Impact Wrestling now based primarily in Canada maybe the stars will align for a redemption arc? Though he has kept the wrestling business at arms length weirder things have happened in wrestling.
  8. Remake: @Meko750 (Raven) vs. @Prince Valor King Of The Ring: @Toxik431 vs. @Gunner
  9. Shawn Michaels vs Tito Santana - Wrestlemania VIII A match that in retrospect by the modern audience might not seem to compare to the classics of the later parts of Shawn's career but one that shouldn't be overlooked as an important building block in the career of The Heartbreak Kid. Tito Santana was a mainstay in WWE/WWF for close to 15 years where he excelled in both singles and tag team competition, and in the process. Gaining a loyal fan base even in his twilight years where he proved to be one of the most dependable stars in the industry. At Wrestlemania 8 Tito was in the role of “Mexican Matador” (Epico & Primo had gotten their fashion advice from somewhere) during this period which believe it or not was supposed to be the big repackaging that would reinvigorate him as a player on the roster. Take him to the next level! Where as Shawn had just thrown Marty Jannetty through a window a few months previously to start of his heel singles run. Speaking of Marty Jannetty! You’re probably asking why isn’t this Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty? Well that depends who you ask.The story goes that it was originally supposed to be the most obvious match up but Marty got fired for an altercation with the police. If you ask Marty Jannetty directly though you'll get a different story. “The barber shop window segment was actually setting up a match at WrestleMania VIII between Shawn and I. A few things didn’t go the way someone wanted, so they ended up completely scrapping that idea, but that was the whole idea of the barber shop. We’d have needed 20-25 minutes with a jump-start to get the people on their feet. We had a match with a pace that was blistering in Denver a few months before WrestleMania VIII, and we could have had a match at WrestleMania that people would still be talking about. When it was over in Denver, the crowd cheered both of us in appreciation of what they saw. We were building Shawn up at the time, so that’s the direction we would have gone.” - Marty Jannetty, Interview It would sadly be a year before we finally got the Shawn Micheals vs Marty Jannetty match everyone was waiting for and you can be the judge if it was as good as it could've been during the heat of the moment, under the Wrestlemania banner. The lighting in a bottle had been missed. Meanwhile during Marty self sabotaging Shawn had found himself a manager in Sensational Sherri. The story is that she’s smitten with him, but he’s rather rude towards her. An example at the end of the match you would see is where Shawn throws her to the mat near his feet before he poses. As the sign in the audience says "Talk is cheap..and so is she". On who came up with the idea of pairing Shawn Michaels and Sherri: “It was something that Pat Patterson had come up with, try to enhance Shawn and take Shawn to the next level and I think it did, I think it helped Shawn tremendously, so this was one of those, you talked about DiBiase, maybe not so much, but Shawn, I thought that Shawn needed Sheri in that regard, to take him to the next level.” - Bruce Pritchard Their partnership consists of him telling her what to do and where to stand and even pushes her around, but she does everything he says. She even sings his theme music. Most people are familiar with Shawn’s theme song, “Sexy Boy,” but the original version had Sherri on vocals instead of him. I kind of prefer the second version but the version with Sherri fit like a glove with their destructive relationship, her adoration for him and his self loving attitude. The pairing worked tremendously. Back to the night at hand. A feud sparked by their elimination of each other at the latest Royal Rumble it would be the singles debut at the grandest stage for Micheals. Starting off the event the transition from Reba McEntire singing to Tito Santana coming out with Bobby Heenan calling her his sister "ARRRIBA MCENTIRE" will never not be funny. Insisting they look alike to the dismay of Gorilla next to him. Following that Shawn comes to the ring wearing a jacket that says, “I’m too sexy for this crowd,” on the back. I guess this would be around the time that song was popular. I’m halfway surprised they didn’t pay the money to make that Shawn’s theme song. The entrance is as fun as ever and you can see why Shawn stood out at the time. Also comes with a quick frame of Sherri grabbing her own ass for the camera. AND HERE WE GO! To begin after the bell we are left with Shawn taking his time as he slowly undresses his entrance attire. While waiting the commentary team argue between themselves if the feeling is mutual between Shawn and Sherri with both acknowledging how much she adores her 'Boy Toy'. Shawn gets a deep "YESS!" from Sherri as he poses for the crowd as the match looks to begin. Tito gets the advantage early, a crossbody, a punch right to the kisser, a headlock before clotheslining him out of the ring to the floor. A fan screams bloody murder at Shawn for what he did to Marty which caught me off guard. You don't really see murderous rage in wrestling anymore. "You got what you deserved Shawn! Go home Shawn!" They also said something about Marty that i couldn't make out. I think it was "I only wish Marty could've done this!" "Highly unlikely that you're going to pin someone with a side headlock. In all my years i've never someone pinned with a side headlock" - Monsoon "I've pinned a few people with it" - Heenan 'You" - Monsoon "Yes" Heenan "Where in your dreams?" - Monsoon "I'll tell you what' good about Santana? He goes back to the same hold. He goes back to wear a man down. That's good scientific wrestling. But it's not going to work" - Bobby Heenan Tito drags Shawn back into the ring and controls him with some headlocks for a while. Every time Shawn tries to fight out of it, shoulders into the corner, some leaping reversals, always back to the headlock. Both men trade pin attempts but Tito keeps going back to the headlock. You can see a pattern. Eventually Shawn fights back with a backbreaker and wears him down for a bit. Tito tries to fight back until Shawn hits a superkick, called a "Reverse Crossing Kick" by Heenan. The moment had me sit up from my seat thinking "Oh crap, its over already!" but then i remembered it’s not his finisher yet. Could've fooled me by the way Sherri was yelling at ringside "PIN HIM! PIN HIM!" Shawn’s current finisher at the time is the teardrop suplex which he attempts right afterwards but Tito blocks it. Tito then responds with a flying forearm, but Shawn falls out of the ring. But Tito gets his moment, the crowd are cheering and he is on fire. Using the ropes he hits a flying clothesline on Shawn after he is back in the ring, a few hits, reverse atomic drop. He also hits him with the El Paso Del Monte! But Shawn rolls to the floor again. Tito attempts to slam him from the apron, but Shawn holds onto the rope and falls on top of Tito for the win. Sherri was supposed to be cheating there or something, but it didn’t work out that way. The first of many victories in the books. There were a lot of rest holds and basic moves but this was a solid opener, which did a good job of heating up the crowd whilst also giving the Michaels and Sherri pairing a semi-clean win on a big show. I wish we could have gotten that Shawn Micheals vs Marty Jannetty match instead. Imagine the history of WWE if it had happened and if Jannetty stayed clean? I know after this match the company gives Shawn a pretty good push throughout 1992 with feuds with Bret Hart and teaming alongside Ric Flair in high level match ups, so you would think they’d give him a more decisive win. Tito has a lot of accoaldes like King of the Ring and being a former Intercontinetal Champion in his own right but he isn’t known for being a big star, even with fan support to a degree, so I’m not sure why Shawn’s victory needed to be almost a fluke. Still, good match, although not “HBK” level good.
  10. Shawn Michaels is perhaps one of if not THE best in ring performer in WWE history depending on who you ask on any given day. His athleticism, talent, and charisma helped usher in a new style of wrestling in the then WWF in the mid-90s when the company was still dominated by cartoons, monsters and giants. Consistently year after year throughout his career Michaels was able to perform at a higher level consistently more than any other wrestler in WWE. Improving his craft after breaking away from his time as on half of The Rockers, delivering performances that would also earn him the moniker of ‘Mr. WrestleMania’. During his 22 year WWE career Michaels competed at WrestleMania 16 times which is an amazing feat. Those matches ranged from opening matches to tag team matches to legendary main events. @Arius and @Austin Omega with this thread are going to look over all the singles matches over the career of Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania matches. With a special final entry at the end.

BrendenPlayz Forums "PPV Events"

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